CJ to re-assign Sowore’s suit against NEDG, BON to a new judge.
Chief Justice of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Ishaq Bello, is expected to assign the suit filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) and its presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, against the National Election Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) from the vacation judge to a judge in a sitting court.
NEDG and BON, the organisers of the presidential debate, had invited only five parties to the debate scheduled for January 19, exempting AAC and over 30 others.
This prompted the AAC presidential candidate to sue the organizers at the Abuja high court, which, at its second sitting on Tuesday, removed the third defendant, John Momoh, from the suit.
After the second sitting, the presiding judge, Justice Danlami Senchi, referred the matter to Bello for re-assignment as the court resumed.
The suit, filed during vacation of the court in December 2018 by Sowore’s counsel, Ineheben Effiong, was assigned to the vacation judge.
It is challenging the exclusion of AAC, Omoyele Sowore and the party’s vice presidential candidate, Dr. Rabiu Rufai, from the debate, alleging discrimination and malice against the party and its candidates.
Although the NEDG, BON, and Momoh were parties in the suit as first, second and third respondents respectively, Effiong sought the discontinuation of the suit against Momoh and the removal of his name as a defendant in the suit on the ground that he could not be served personally as deposed to by the court bailiff.
While Momoh’s counsel, Onyekachi Omah, argued for the consideration of the efforts of the third defendant in responding and being present in court and later seeking compensation in the sum of N1 million, he argued further against the submission of Effiong who had questioned the validity of Momoh’s representation in court since he wasn’t served.
The judge eventually granted the discontinuation of the suit and awarded the sum of N5,300 Cost of Action to the third defendant.
Instituted on December 19, 2018, the action seeks the declaration of the court that the deployment of state media, including the National Television Authority (NTA), Radio Nigeria and the Voice of Nigeria (VON), by organisers of the debate to the advantage of five select political parties and to the disadvantage of the AAC and Sowore is contrary to Section 100 (2) of the Electoral Act 2000 (as amended).